For the past four years, I have been fortunate enough to take a brief sojourn to Mexico during the coldest months of winter for some much needed salty air, sunshine, and sand. I’ve ventured all over Central and South America (to Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, and Colombia) and I have to say that Mexico has an energy and a pulse that sets it apart from its Latin American counterparts. It’s decidedly more American feeling (in both positive and not so great ways depending on how you enjoy traveling most), but it also has a hopeful and upbeat energy that makes you feel happy to be alive and a part of the vibe.
This year we decided to venture over to Isla Mujeres, an island less than ten miles off the coast of Cancun, but a world apart from the touristy, hotel laden shores of Cancun. Much more affordable than your options back on the mainland, Isla Mujeres boasts laid back beachfront hostels and boutique hotels, authentic eateries with seating that sprawls out onto the narrow streets, and more handmade artisanal goods than your suitcase can likely carry.
The beaches were formed from crushed coral and the result is a magnificently white sand with rocky jetties for the minimal waves to coast over. The impossibly still water brings the word “tranquilo” to mind and I wouldn’t mind posting up here for quite a while with a Modelo (extra lime!) and a good book for several days. Wander the colorful streets and you’ll be utterly amazed at the perfectly sun-faded yet vibrant colors that serve as the perfect backdrop for photos.
To get to Isla Mujeres from Cancun, head to the Ultramar Ferry (also known as Gran Puerto, Isla Ferry or Puerto Jerez – when in doubt ask for the “Isla Mujeres Ferry”). The Ferry runs about every 30 minutes during the day and takes about 20 minutes to cross the bay. We took a chartered sail boat across the bay and it took about an hour. We arrived wind blown and ready to explore! Many people opt to rent a golf cart but I preferred to wander the narrow, prismatic streets by foot in search of pretty painted pottery and a coconut to sip.
Where are your favorite places to travel in Mexico? Have you been to Isla Holbox or Tulum? They are definitely on my list. I would love to hear your recommendations in the comments below!